South Korea: all-out ecumenism

Source: FSSPX News


From July 17 to 20, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians and the Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious questions of the Federation of Bishops Conferences of Africa and the Korean Bishops Conference, organized in Seoul, a seminar on the theme: The search for unity of Christians: where do we stand today?

 Presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians, the meeting hoped “to respond to a need, expressed by the bishops, to find a pastoral response to the challenges of the new religious movements (Pentecostals, Evangelists and Charismatics).” The press release specified that “the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Unity of Christians would devote itself particularly to giving support to those who worked locally, as part of the ecumenical framework, in order to face such challenges in the light of the call to Christian unity.”

 It should be noted that after the United States, South Korea is the country which sends out most Protestant Evangelical Missionaries all over the world. The ecumenical agency ENI, in an article dated July 27, described the operation entitled Revival Europe. One of the main South Korean Evangelical organizations, founded in 1977, Jesus Disciples Movement (JDM) has sent more than 200 students into Europe, in order to officially “help South Korean students to discover Western Europe and give them an incentive to return there.” The three week stay – during which the distribution of tracts and mime spectacles in the streets were organized in France, Germany and Great Britain – ended with a session in Lyons, from July 17 to 20. “We are getting first-hand experience of the secularization of European society and its de-christianization,” stated Son Gwiyeon to the agency ENI. “Among the foreign missions, France has a very difficult reputation,” explained Eun Kyung, a missionary of JDM at Lyons. “We call it the ‘graveyard nation’ as many missionaries abandon it after a very short time.”

 After the South Korean seminar on Christian Unity, Cardinal Kasper went immediately to the World Conference of Methodists which was holding its five-yearly general assembly between July 20 and 24, in Seoul itself. On Sunday July 23, the World Methodist Council signed the theological accord completed in 1999 between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Confessions on the Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. This agreement states: “We are accepted by God, not because we are good, but because God is good.” “The Methodists are undoubtedly in agreement with the idea of justification by faith, and it is our duty to add our own names to this Declaration,” said Pastor George H. Freeman, the Secretary General of the World Methodist Council, as “the Methodists have been in dialogue with the Catholic Church since Vatican II” and this accord opens “the door to new ecumenical links.”

 “This day is one of the most important in the history of our Churches.” “It is a gift from God,” “one of the principal successes of ecumenical dialogue,” affirmed Cardinal Walter Kasper. Pastor Ishmael Noko, secretary general of the World Lutheran Federation hoped that “other communities and international organizations – like the Reformed Churches, the Anglican Church or even the Orthodox Church – may soon be adopting similar positions.”

 On the same day, a special service was celebrated at Seoul in honor of this accord, at which Pastor Ishmael Noko, the Methodist minister Samuel Kobia, secretary general of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, and Cardinal Kasper assisted.